The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many changes in the ways Trinity County is conducting business ranging from office closures limiting public access to employees working from home and public meetings either being canceled or limited in attendance.

“Many departments will limit hours or access. However, service provided by those departments will continue through emails, phone calls and limited public contact,” said County Administrative Officer Richard Kuhns.

He said masks have been issued to all departments in the event that county staff is dealing with someone exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 illness.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has reduced many of the state’s Brown Act open meeting requirements in order to allow meetings subject to the Brown Act to limit public attendance.

Kuhns said other counties he’s contacted are closing their board of supervisors’ meetings to the public which is “something we are also considering, but we have not made that decision yet.” Attending by telephone conference is another option, and for the first time, livestreaming of a Trinity County board meeting was made available last week for the board’s March 17 meeting. It enables anyone to view the meeting live on a YouTube channel.

The board has also approved an interim county personnel policy allowing employees to work from home if they meet any of four criteria associated with the coronavirus, their duties allow it and they have authorization from their department head.

There are four reasons an employee may be allowed to work from home. They include a positive diagnosis for the illness; a quarantine either directed or self-imposed to contain the potential spread of the virus or the employee is in a high-risk health category; employees caring for someone else with the illness and employees caring for children forced to stay home due to school closures or cancellation of childcare services.

If an employee’s duties cannot be performed from home, he or she may use emergency leave of up to 80 hours and additional available leave after that.

All county employees are deemed essential and expected to provide services. In an emergency situation, their duties may be reassigned as needed.

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